Black Box

Nolan (Black Box) just suffered a devastating car accident that took his memory and his wife’s life. Trying to piece his life back together after the trauma, Nolan’s amnesia would seem particularly problematic since he is now a single father to Ava (Amanda Christine), is far too little to have such an unreliable caregiver, never mind doing most of the caring herself.

Nolan is desperate, so he agrees to undergo an experimental treatment, the eponymous black box, which wears and looks like a VR helmet and seems to almost hypnotize patients back into their subconscious minds where Dr. Lillian (Phylicia Rashad) attempts to guide them into recovering their inaccessible memories. The process is agonizing, and while some progress is being made, it’s also further confusing Nolan, who finds that his memories aren’t quite matching up to what he’s come to expect. Thank goodness for Gary (Tosin Morohunfola) who not only provides priceless babysitting duty, but also serves as a touchstone, the only one who can confirm or deny the memories that Nolan seems to be recovering.

While I wouldn’t classify the film as a horror movie (though Amazon Prime sure does, including it in its “Welcome to the Blumhouse series), it is creepy in a way that’s hard to shake. Nolan’s memories remind me a bit of Inception in that sometimes they are hostile toward him, which doesn’t exactly do any favours to his healing. I’ve been a fan of Athie for many years now, and it’s always exciting to see Rashad pop up in things; the two together make for a well-acted and interesting film. I enjoyed the story, and the frantic search for identity, and I’ve appreciated how many of these Blumhouse films have considered parenthood from different aspects. Black Box doesn’t deliver my scares, but it’s chilling like an extended episode of Black Mirror, slightly sci-fi-ish, exploring the unintended consequences of new technologies.

See our other Blumhouse reviews here.

5 thoughts on “Black Box

  1. Carol

    After reading your review, my husband and I watched Black Box and found it interesting with a hint of well done. We will watch other movies you’ve critiqued. I also critique movies and TV series. Checked me out on WordPress if you get a chance. Love your movie picks.


  2. filme

    Black Box begins intriguingly – a single father suffering from amnesia tries to regain his memories through a tech-backed experiment. The dynamic between father (Mamoudou Athie) and daughter (a terrific Amanda Christine, the true star of the film) is warmly established.

    It takes about an hour before the big (predictable) twist arrives, and thereafter, Black Box descends into a heap of melodrama.

    I didn’t find Black Box positioning itself in the horror genre except for the first time the Backwards Man (played to astounding effect by actor-contortionist Troy James) pops up. It’s very clearly a psychological sci-fi thriller that focuses less on the sci-fi and more on familial bonding.



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